Lifestyle Tips: Five Ways to Stay Healthy as a College Student

Some students at the University of Nevada, Reno, find that staying healthy in college is a little harder to do whether you’re living at home, in your first apartment, or on campus. Reporting by Rachael Jones.

In a poll conducted on Twitter, 89% of UNR students responded by saying they don’t consider themselves healthy and are in need of improvement. So in light of those results, here are a few tips and tricks on how to stay healthy as a college student especially with Spring term soon approaching.
  1. Time Management

If you are to take anything from this article, take this tip. Learn to time manage. It is the ultimate way to ensure your health. Nina Shapiro, a surgeon and professor at UCLA and a regular on the show The Doctors, who visited the Reynolds School of Journalism in October, strongly suggests learning to time manage.

A nutrition professor and dietician at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jolyn Wirshing, also advocates learning time management skills.

When you time manage effectively, you find time to sit down and eat meals, go shopping for food instead of eating out, and you get better sleep.

College can be rough but with time management, it will make college life a lot easier and healthier.

2. Sleep

Sleep is essential for the human brain. As a college student, sleeping can be very difficult to do with late night studying, procrastinated projects due by midnight, and even finals to cram for.

Dr. Shapiro mentioned that often students will eat to stay awake, and with sleep deprivation, eventually your metabolism will slow down, which can then lead to weight gain…. which can lead to diabetes … which can lead to cardiovascular disease… which is not good considering college students are working towards graduating and starting their new life.

“If you absolutely have to stay up, eat high protein and foods with high energy,” she said.

Dr. Shapiro said sleep is the most important and the most underrated, even in her profession. “In medicine, we can’t have younger doctors work extremely long hours due to sleep deprivation and the effects it has on us,” she said.

Simply put, when you deprive your body of sleep, you’re depriving your brain.

In the long run, if you time manage and sleep, you will most likely do better in school. And ultimately, you will have a higher life expectancy.

3. Eat

According to Wirshing, 20% of college students are food insecure.

The number one reason that students are food insecure is the fact that they don’t have enough money. The second reason is they don’t have enough time.

Wirshing hopes that with time management, students will start to notice where they are spending money unnecessarily, and find time to shop and eat healthier for the week.

A popular strategy some students take is called food prepping, where you prepare your meals either a few days at a time or more so it’s more convenient to eat the healthier meals when you’re in a time crunch.

Wirshing also mentions that students should eat more fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables, especially the dark green ones, have a ton of incredible and important nutrients in them. By just incorporating them into your diet, you would be fighting weight gain and supporting your body in more ways than you might think possible.

Nutritional experts also suggest incorporating veggies and fruits whenever possible in daily routines. For example, instead of getting a coffee, get yourself a smoothie. Not only would a smoothie give you energy, it would be a refreshing and healthier choice.

If you’re concerned on how much you should be eating and what exactly you should be eating, ChooseMyPlate.gov has many free tools and advice when it comes to eating healthy. It’s a good website to know when learning how to be healthy. They provide recipes, knowledge, and advice in creating better eating habits.

“Breakfast might not be the most important meal but it’s just important that you do eat meals throughout the day,” Dr. Shapiro said.

It’s very important to sit down everyday and eat meals. Sometimes it can be hard when studying but Dr. Shapiro says that students should keep studying and snacking separate. Take a break from studying and eat a full meal and let your body realize that you are eating. When you snack and study, your brain is focusing on studying and your body sometimes doesn’t realize that you have been eating as much as you have.

Mindless eating isn’t healthy, so take the time to eat a meal when you need a break from studying for those exams.

4. Be more active

Being active overall can help your mind and body in so many ways.

Dr. Shapiro said it’s quite easy to use time management and set aside 15 minutes to do some physical activity. “Physical activity helps with studying, focus, and sleep, which overall helps your brain,” she said.

Good news is… you don’t always need a gym to be more active.

Instead of riding the bus or driving to class, try walking.

UNR’s gym offers a wide variety of gym classes like zumba, cycling, yoga, and all of those classes are free for their students to use.

Wirshing wants to remind students that there are also clubs on campus that specialize in group fitness, like hiking clubs, canoeing clubs, club sports and many more. It’s a great way to make more friends and get active.

Exercising helps with mental wellness as well. Exercising can help relieve anxiety and make studying easier. You’ll also typically sleep better.

Exercising also promotes drinking more water. Water makes up the largest percentage of the human body. So when you stay hydrated, you overall feel more energetic and feel better.

5. Campus programs

There are many ways to stay healthy on campus. Wirshing supports the program at UNR called Pack Provisions.

There’s clubs to get involved in and classes at the gym you can also join. These campus programs make being healthier easier and help with learning time management.

If you enjoy a club you will make time to go to those club meetings and outings.

The gym offers classes at many different times as well so they can work with your busy schedule, and they provide all the equipment needed for the class. You could even just exercise freely between classes.

Not only does getting involved with campus programs improve your overall health, they facilitate friendships, good habits, and a healthy routine.

Pack provisions is a program at UNR that students and staff are free to use.

The program is like a pantry of free products for students and staff to grab. Whether you don’t have time or money for essential products or food, this pantry is here to help students and staff on campus.

Monique Normand, the outreach coordinator who oversees Pack Provisions, said student health and nutrition status is “ not as good as it could be. It’s hard to have a stable job, pay rent, have good grades, and do clubs in school; students need help focusing on nutrition.”

Pack Provisions receives donations from the Food Bank from Northern Nevada and from drives students and clubs on campus run usually in the beginning of the school year. It’s located on the 3rd floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union in the Student Engagement area.

The director of Pack provisions, Karissa Mendaros, (above) said the original “UNR Pantry” started in 1993. However, in 2016, they rebranded to lower the stigma and encourage the pantry to give away food, school supplies, and clothes for students.

Pack Provisions Director Mendaros mentioned that when she was in college, even though she was living at home, she still had to work and help with bills, and even with scholarships, it wasn’t enough.

That’s why there’s Pack Provisions. It isn’t just for the really food insecure students. Pack Provisions’ goals are to make it a welcoming environment that makes it easier for students and staff, where they wouldn’t be judged for asking for help.

Pack Provisions even offers a program called Mobile Mondays where they will bring their supply of goods on campus and hand out products to students to get the word out about Pack Provisions and allow students to grab free things without judgement while on the way to or from class.

Pack Provisions has partnerships with Burger King, zulily, and many more; even with businesses on campus.

They have a whole pantry of perishable and non perishable items. They even have a whole closet filled of products donated from places like zulily where there’s sometimes even bed comforters and clothing that had previously been returned to their store. Their policy for returned items means they can’t be resold, so almost all returned items get donated to places such as Pack Provisions.

The Wolf Shop even donates scantrons and other school supplies.

“If someone asks for something we don’t have on hand, we can contact our sources and see if we can get it in for you. A student even asked for shower curtains and we were able to find some to give to that student a few days later,” Outreach Coordinator Normand said.

If you’re interested in finding out more tips and tricks on how to stay healthy check out “101 Health and Wellness Tips for College Students” by Rutgers University, Camden: https://healthservices.camden.rutgers.edu/topics_wellness

Reporting by Rachael Jones shared with the Reynolds Sandbox

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